||Cultural Tour, Trekking
Entrancingly off the well-traveled path, Choquequirao (“Cradle of Gold” in Quechua) is a phenomenal Incan outpost that perches dramatically on a promontory nearly 6000 feet above the roaring Apurimac River. Four times the size of Machu Picchu, but far tougher to reach—requiring about 20 miles on foot across a 10,000-foot-deep gorge—Choquequirao sees about one percent of Machu Picchu’s 2,700 daily visitors. Our strenuous, 13-day, mule-supported trek connects the two splendid lost cities, following perfectly preserved Incan trails across high passes lavished with magnificent Andean views.
To get our bearings, we first explore the Incan capital of Cusco and the Sacred Valley, including Pisac’s colorful market. Then it’s a two-day trek across the Apurimac Gorge to Choquequirao. Though its existence has been known for some time, Choquequirao has only recently been accessible to non-academics, and has quickly joined the ranks of the world’s great Lost Cities. After dallying in the ruins, only 40 percent excavated, we cross the Vilcabamba Range to Machu Picchu in five rigorous days, passing through remote indigenous villages and over a 15,900-foot pass between glaciated peaks to finally descend into the lush, orchid-profuse cloud forest that surrounds Machu Picchu. We wander extensively before heading home.
Itinerary at a Glance
- Day 1:
arrive in Lima
- Day 2:
fly to Cusco, tour city center
- Day 3:
visit Pisac market and hike the Sacred Valley
- Day 4:
- Days 5–9:
trekking to Choquequirao and on to Machu Picchu
- Day 10:
final trekking day, train to Aguas Calientes
- Day 11:
full guided tour of Machu Picchu
- Day 12:
explore ruins of Ollantaytambo, drive to Cusco, leisure afternoon
- Day 13:
fly to Lima, tour city, depart.